Category archives: Prayer

When You Feel Far From God

God made us. And He seeks us. We feel far from God, most days. We scratch around and try to grab hold of Him, and He seems just out of reach. But feelings are like clouds. They hide reality. The truth is, the sun is there, always. The truth is, God is there, but our feelings hide Him from our sight. So, we pray. We pray in order that we might see what's actually there. We pray that we might feel the warmth of our Father. Prayer was never meant to be an occasional duty we perform. Prayer is a way of living. It is talking. Listening. Acting. It's keeping the conversation going, in faith, with a God who is close by and who hears us. Prayer is reaching out and touching God's chest and finding that there is a heart behind it. Warm. Pulsing. Vibrant. Al[...]

How To Slow Down Time and How to Pray Prayers You Don't Think You Can Pray

Hi, my friends. Life is flying. And I don't know why, but I get a little freaked out by that. I get a little panicked. Like, "Crapola! My kids are growing up too fast! And the grass is growing too quickly and I didn't get to walk barefoot on it enough! And the creeks are flowing by and they'll just keep flowing by, whether I wade in them or not! And the fireflies keep blinking and then I blink, and my baby is learning to crawl and my oldest is eight already which means I'll blink again and all my summers with him will be gone." I know. I need to calm down. So, I'm learning to do that. I'm learning to stop breathing like I'm constantly running a marathon and start breathing like I'm enjoying things. Deep, slow breaths. Taking it all in breaths. The only way I know how to[...]

Why We Can Pray (And Then Rest)

Miracles still happen. But they often happen in the dark unexpected places, the places where no one’s really looking. They’re quietly happening. Because you pray and you hope and you wait, seems like forever you wait, and you don’t see anything good or glamorous, yet.  But you planted those seeds with your prayers and you watered them with your tears and sometime when you weren’t paying attention, things were growing. Slowly, slowly growing. Little heart, didn’t you know? Haven’t you heard that there’s a glorious Kingdom full of light? And love? And vibrant life? It comes slow and quiet like a dawning. It’s a strange paradox, this Kingdom. The here already and not fully realized yet. Sometime in the quiet of night, when the moon waxed full there was this breaking. You coul[...]

A Prayer for My Friends

Hi, my friends. I was thinking about you today. And I was thinking about how I want this space to be a shepherding place. A place where you can come and have your heart tended to. I figure the world has knocked you around a bit. I know it has me. And so I just wanted to nourish you the way Jesus (and my community of friends) have nourished me. So, I'm praying this prayer for you today. Just rest and let me pray this over you, okay? And if there's ever anything you'd want me to write about, or a place in your heart where you feel stuck and need tending to, let me know and I'll ask God for some words for you to put here. You can always email me here: surprisedbyhope@yahoo.com A Prayer at the Beginning of the Week (For My Friends) God, Maker of afternoon light, Thank You for [...]

How to Cast Your Cares on Jesus

If you’re alive, then you have some things you’re carrying around. Some things that crush in on your heart, that cause you some angst or maybe a great deal of pain, even. Probably things you can’t control, or else you would, and you’re not quite sure what to do with them. In fact, you might be so busy that you don’t even know all the things that are there. You just walk around with this gnawing sense that something is there, always there, and it’s crowding out any semblance of joy you once had and infringing on your ability to relax, ever, and take deep breaths and enjoy your life. Or perhaps you do know exactly what the thing is that’s bugging you, keeping you awake at night. Maybe it’s that one strained relationship that causes your heart to be sore every time you think of it a[...]

When You Want To Change Things. Help Things. Heal Things.

I passed this church sign the other day. It said, "Prayer is the next best thing to being there." And I get what they mean...mostly. But, it seemed more like a sure-tell sign of how the Church actually views prayer--as always the "next best thing." Like, "Well, I can't change this, so I guess I'll pray." Or, "I can't help that person, so since there's nothing else, I'll just have to resort to praying. Maybe, maybe that'll be good for something." And I wonder where we get this mentality, because Jesus sure didn't hand it down to us. Jesus portrayed for us a life utterly dependent upon God in prayer. Prayer wasn't something He did as a last resort, or even as the next best thing. Instead, He showed us that prayer is the way we actually live our life. I wonder if this is why[...]

Reflections on Loss and Fear and Pain

Here lately, I’m sad because my friend’s son died. They had to bury him today. Last night was the visitation and a part of me didn’t want to go. Because how do you look your friends in the eyes, who just lost their son and have anything at all to say? How do you know what to do with their bleeding-out heart? When I was talking to God about this, He reminded me of the elephants. When an elephant dies, all the other elephants huddle up close together and sort of sway. They just stay there for a while and though it’s hard for us humans to know what to do with unfathomable loss, we can learn a bit from those big gentle creatures. We don’t have to say profound things. Or any deeply spiritual things. We can just say, "I love you." And "I'm sorry."  We can just show up and be with the pers[...]

When You Wonder What God's Will is for Your Life

I talked to a few different friends this weekend. Each of them were coming up on major life decisions. And all three of them happened to be believers, meaning, they each had a relationship with God and some kind of notion that God cares about them individually and is somewhat involved in the details of their lives. But they all three carried that same angst in their voice. I recognized that angst because I've had it, too. You know, when you've done your part--you've prayed and you've sought and you've gone knocking on God's door and then you're just standing there waiting and wondering and you seriously wish God would just spell things out to you in the sky. That would sure be nice of Him. For some reason, He doesn't do that. Now, there are a few times, perhaps, for some peop[...]

What the Summer Days are Teaching Me

Today, as the kids played in the warm sunshine out back in the yard, I remembered how much I love summer. And then I recalled all my growing up years under an Arkansas summer sun. There were popsicle days and creek exploring afternoons. There was honey suckle dripping on the tip of our tongues and strawberry nibbling.  I vividly remember the dandelion blowing, dirt digging, frog catching moments and the times when the afternoon storms would blow in and we’d dance around the yard in the rain and “take a shower” in the waterfall that flowed from the eaves. I used to begrudge my momma for having us play outside so much in the hot sun. We’d sit in the shade and make tents and forts from old sheets and me and my little brother were sure we were languishing out there in the heat. But, [...]

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